Southern Supper Book Club: “Big Lies in a Small Town”

Southern Supper Book Club: “Big Lies in a Small Town”

It’s National Book Lover’s Day and my book club party planner is here! Host a Southern-style book club supper with “Big Lies In A Small Town” by Diane Chamberlain and these recipes from my cookbooks.

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I must admit, I was captivated by this book from the first sentence. After all the main character’s first name is Morgan.

Her surname is Christopher (name of my middle son) and her boyfriend’s name is Trey (name of oldest son). There’s a Jon in there somewhere, I’m sure!

The extra pull is that the novel is set in my adopted state of North Carolina jumping back and forth from the early forties and to the present. But it is the writing that really captures the reader. You feel like the characters are your peers. You find yourself dancing in a time warp while you are cheering for the heroine(s).

This is my next pick for our Super Supper Book Club. Gather your readers, give them the title and dole out the recipes for what will be a roller coaster discussion and meal.

Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit; she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold―until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

I already cooked up some questions for your Super Supper Book Club gathering…

  • After a year, you get your hands on a cell phone for the first time. Who do you call? 
  • Was it brave or crazy for Jesse’s family to aid Anna?
  • Does Morgan ever come to accept that alcohol is a problem for her, or does she simply comply with her parole requirements?

My Southern inspiration for this Super Supper Book Club menu is Jesse’s family’s Sunday dinner. I take the liberty of substituting Anna’s least favorite vegetable (collard greens) with my delicious recipe for Swiss chard. I exchange corn on with cob for creamed corn. In place of stewed tomatoes liberated from the family’s root cellar, I substitute slow roasted cherry tomatoes.

The author didn’t mention a dessert, but I bet the farm, there was strawberry shortcake somewhere, sometime on Sundays. My swaps are allowed, because all these recipes are rooted in my love of the South. Lest there be controversary during the discussion, keep those paintbrushes close to allow everyone to express themselves.

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. 

Super Supper Book Club Menu: “Big Lies in a Small Town” by Diane Chamberlain

Fried Chicken Basket

Sunday Best Dishes, page 71

Creamy Smashed Parmesan Potatoes

Sunday Best Dishes, page 280

Braised Rainbow Chard

Canvas and Cuisine, page 124

Old-Fashioned Cream Corn

Fresh Traditions, page 208

Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Fresh Traditions, page 205

Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@helloimnik?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Hello I'm Nik</a> on Unsplash

Southern-Style Strawberry Shortcake

Canvas and Cuisine, page 331

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Fry Day, My Way: Make Duck Fat Fries Easy

Fry Day, My Way: Make Duck Fat Fries Easy

Make fries at home with this easy French Fry recipe that calls for a secret ingredient: Duck fat!

I LOVE French fries.

I love fries whether they come supersized from that drive-thru joint on the corner or truffled from that upscale restaurant calling them frites.

I love fries smothered in ketchup or piled high with chili and cheese. I love fries alongside a burger or in a basket with fried shrimp. I just love fries!

I make fries at home, fry them twice as preferred and even serve them with my homemade ketchup.

However, the one thing I haven’t tried was to fry them in duck fat.

Why duck fat? Well, when I researched duck fat, some believe it to be a better-for-you fat than other animal fats like lard.

But, since I don’t use lard to fry, I don’t see this as a huge benefit. Then I read that frying in duck fat produces a crispier fry. Well, you had me at crispy!

So, I gave it a try and darn if it isn’t true. 

You can render the fat from duck and store it in the fridge.

Or you can buy a jar or two of duck fat right from the grocery shelf.

The fat is clean and clear when cooking and afterward. The fries are less greasy, crisp on the outside and moist on the inside.

These fries hold up; rigid and perfect for dipping.

In honor of National French Fry Day, I encourage you to cook up a batch of fries…and then eat a bunch for me!

A Fry Above All Others: Jorj’s Duck Fat Fries

Servings

A Crowd

Ready In:

30 Minutes ‘Til Ready

Good For:

Appetizer, Snack, Side

For Fries:

2 large Idaho potatoes, scrubbed

Duck fat for frying

For ketchup:

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste 

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 

¼ teaspoon ground mustard 

¼ teaspoon cinnamon 

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice 

¼ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for fries 

¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

Peel the potato and cut it into 4 planks. Cut each plank into 4 strips. Place the strips into a bowl of cold water for at least 30 minutes. This removes some of the starch. Alternately, you can leave the peel on. It’s a more rustic fry this way. And you can cut it into thinner strips for a skinnier fry. It’s YOUR choice.

For the ketchup, whisk together tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, mustard, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in a small pan over low heat. Pour in ¼ cup water. Whisk until smooth. Cook until the sugar melts and the ketchup is warmed through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and let the flavors blend at room temperature or in the refrigerator overnight. The longer it sits, the better your ketchup.

Transfer the potato strips to paper toweling and blot dry. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Pour enough olive oil to come ⅓-inch up the side of the skillet. Use a candy thermometer to heat the oil to 325°. Place some of the potatoes into the oil and cook until just beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes. This will cook the inside of the potato. Do this in batches so you do not crowd the skillet. Transfer the potato strips to a cooking sheet lined with paper towels. You can pre-cook the fries in advance and finish the frying just before mealtime.

Increase the temperature until the oil reaches 375°. Place the pre-cooked potato strips into the hot oil. Cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the fries to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Season with a generous sprinkle of coarse salt.

Serve your French fries with ketchup to dip!

Cheers to Dad’s Good Health This Father’s Day!

Cheers to Dad’s Good Health This Father’s Day!

Let’s honor Dad this Father’s Day and show him the love with these super tasty ideas that “sneak” veggies into every delectable bite! Try my twist on zesty enchiladas using farm-fresh zucchini in place of tortillas.

Skip to Recipe

For years now, I’ve written about ways to sneak veggies into your child’s diet.

You’ve written back with tons of great ideas that have made their way into recipes that we are all familiar with today.

You know what? It turns out that kids are not the only ones that need those veggies.

As we grow older, our healthy diets become just as important for us as they are for our children.

If your household is anything like mine, it’s Daddy dearest who often shoves away that cauliflower while he adds a serving or two of French fries. I’ll make you a bet that nary a pickled beet has been spooned onto his salad plate.

Even with Popeye as a role model, our father shuns any green leafy veg unless it is swimming in cream sauce.

This Father’s Day let’s honor Dad and show him the love by sneaking a couple of veggies into his everyday meals. Won’t that be FUN!

Here are some ideas…

A SALAD is a terrific way to hide fresh veggies. In addition to good old lettuce and tomatoes, try sneaking in these:

🌿Microgreens – full of nutrients and a big punch of taste in a little bitty leaf.
🥬Squash – Shave thin slices of zucchini and yellow squash into thin strips that resemble lettuce leaves.
🥕 Carrots – I know, you’re saying anybody can add carrots to a salad. BUT what if Daddy hates carrots? Here’s a secret. Put the carrot in the dressing! Use your trusty food processor to emulsify the veg into your vinaigrette. You can do this with any veggie. 🥦 Cauliflower, broccoli, and spinach will work too.

Sneak those veggies into your MAIN meals so that Dad won’t know what hit him!

For pasta sauce make your favorite red, white, or green sauce and add some new veggies into the mix. For spaghetti and meatballs, add sauteed veggies to the meatball like eggplant, peppers, or kale.

When sautéing onions and garlic to make your red sauce, add shaved Brussels, diced cabbage, or riced cauliflower. Add roasted butternut squash to your fettuccini sauce. Make pesto with spinach and pea sprouts instead of basil.

You can add every veggie to stews and soups. Bell and spicy peppers are a terrific addition to chili. Add turmeric root, turnips, or sweet potatoes to your chicken noodle soup.

VEGGIE VESSELS are a terrific way to merge more veggies into your main meal. Stuff roasted peppers with chicken and rice. Add Cajun-spiced shrimp to spaghetti squash boats. Hollow out zucchini for veggie enchiladas. (This recipe comes from “Canvas and Cuisine”, my most veggie-filled cookbook!)

Let’s give Dad a real present this year. One that will keep him around for lots of future Fathers Days!!

Zucchini Enchilada Boats
With Chorizo and Black Bean Filling

This dish has all the flavors of enchiladas but stars farm-fresh zucchini in place of tortillas. Spicy chorizo sausage and meaty black beans are the heart of its fiery filling. The yummy enchilada sauce brings the whole thing together. It’s pretty darn delicious!

Servings

6-8

Ready In:

30 minutes

Good For:

Dinner
Entertaining

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion in the skillet until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the sirloin and chorizo and stir, breaking up large clumps, until the meat is browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the black beans. Season with salt and pepper. Use a potato masher to break up the beans into the meat filling. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Whisk together the vegetable oil, flour, and chili powder in a pot over medium heat to form a paste. Stir in the tomato paste and ½ cup of water. Stir in onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and oregano. Simmer the sauce for 5 minutes to thicken and allow the seasonings to merge. Taste and season with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too thick you can pour in a bit more water. Remove the pan from the heat.

Spoon some of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and hollow out the zucchini leaving about a ¾-inch boat. Place these into the dish. Season zucchini with salt and pepper. Spoon the filling into the boats. It’s ok if the filling spills over. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the boats. Layer cheese over the top. Cover the dish with a sheet of aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, and the zucchini is fork-tender, about 20 minutes more.

Garnish the boats with fresh cilantro, jalapeno slices, guacamole, and sour cream. 

Recipes You’ll Love On National Cheese Day

Recipes You’ll Love On National Cheese Day

When is National Cheese Day this year?

June 4th, 2022 is a day to celebrate in your kitchen with these easy, cheesy dishes!

What should I make for National Cheese Day?

I always find ways to let cheese creep into my recipes, slowly but surely.

Take a walk on the cheesy side with a few of my favorite dishes that answer the call of your Cheese Day cravings!

how to make easy grilled veggies for memorial day

Hearty, Cheesy Butternut Squash Soup

Soup happens! This easy, hearty soup is perfect for those impromptu dinners when you need something cozy and cheesy.

Happily, the base is easy to get started and the soup will accommodate your cheese on hand.

how to make easy grilled veggies for memorial day

Chicken Ravioli

Too much chicken? Leftovers for what feels this for days? Make these on a day when your chicken overrunneth.

You can store your extra ravioli in a single layer in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer, making this a recipe remix with a cheesy twist that is as efficient as it is delicious! 

Original Eggplant Parm

Eggplant Parm, The Old Fashioned Way

A cast-iron skillet. Thick slices of eggplant. A ladleful of marinara sauce and a double-topping of cheese. 

Take advantage of your favorite variety of eggplant using this simple frying technique to create a super Italian inspired dish and make eggplant parm magic tonight!

how to make easy grilled veggies for memorial day

Cheese and Crackers Chicken

Cheese and crackers are my go-to food when the tummy rumbles and that fasting headache emerges. Just a little bite of cheese takes the edge off. This works…for a while.

What happens next is that cheese begins to sneak its way into my dish. I love cheese on my scrambled eggs. Cheese in my salad. Cheese and crackers for my snack. Then inspiration hits.

So why not cheese and crackers in my chicken dinner? 

Want More Ideas?

Grillin’ and Chillin’ This Memorial Day Weekend

Grillin’ and Chillin’ This Memorial Day Weekend

Strawberry Recipes for Desserts

Make and take this effortless side, or get it going while your main course is on the grill or stovetop! It’s all about grilling and chilling this Memorial Day Weekend.

Whether it’s burgers, brats, ribs, or steaks, the sides are just as important as the main course when you’re planning your Memorial Day bash.

There’s lots of planning and lots of dishes to prepare. Here’s a way for you to make things just a little bit easier on yourself this year. 

Start with grilled veggies!

Any veggie will work here. My favorites are thick asparagus spears, bell peppers, red onions, zucchini and yellow squash, eggplant and portobello mushrooms. 

For the asparagus, break off the tough ends and trim. For the mushrooms remove the cap and inner gills. Slice the eggplant and red onion into ½-inch circles. Cut the squash diagonally into ½-inch ovals.

As you slice your veggies lay them onto a baking sheet. You can use parchment paper to layer everything on top of each other. Brush both sides with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now you are ready to grill.

Use an open flame or your trusty grill pan to cook each slice turning once so that you have grill marks on both sides.

Make sure you do not over-cook. You want firm veggies, not mushy ones. Remember things keep on cooking after you remove them from the heat.

Transfer the veggies from the grill to the baking sheet. You can cook these the day before your barbecue. Cool to room temperature and cover with plastic wrap. Chill ‘til you are ready to serve. 

 

how to make easy grilled veggies for memorial day

Now, here is where we get creative!

1: Layer the veggies onto a platter. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Shave thin slices of Parmesan cheese over top and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

2: Stack the veggies, beginning with eggplant and layering from largest slices to smallest. Layer in a slice or two of mozzarella cheese and add a few leaves of fresh basil on the top. Drizzle with olive oil.

3: Layer the veggies onto a platter and add slices of tomato and watermelon. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out circles of the watermelon that are about the same size as the tomato slices. Add a sprinkling of blue cheese and drizzle with balsamic reduction.  

4: Chop the veggies into similar size pieces and stir into rice for grilled veggie pilaf.

5:  Slice the veggies into thin strips and pair them with your grilled beef or chicken for fajitas, enchiladas, or quesadillas.

The secret here is that you can grill the veggies in advance and with little effort assemble the dish while the main course is sitting on the grill. What a great plan!

Asparagus! In The Kitchen With Jorj

Asparagus! In The Kitchen With Jorj

Join Jorj In The Kitchen!

Learn the secrets to delicious asparagus!

Join me in the kitchen and learn how to master asparagus for your next meal!

I will show you my best tips to making the most tender asparagus, from how to buy ’em, to how to prepare ’em, and finally how to serve ’em THREE DIFFERENT WAYS!

The Art of The Fresh Market

Grab the book that contains my favorite travel adventures, with inspired original artwork by artist Susan Fazio.

New Year, Old Friends and the Birth of This Book